COVID-19 Complication: Delirium

Doctors say they're increasing seeing COVID-19 patients exhibiting signs of delirium, possibly due to depleted oxygen levels. KPRC's Haley Hernandez reports.

(KPRC/NBC News) — Doctors treating COVID-19 patients say they’re seeing a somewhat surprising symptom in young patients: delirium.

Delirium is a common complication for patients in the hospital. Forty percent of patients may experience this, but it’s more common in oldier patients.

“It usually is that frequent because the patients tend to be older and already have dementia, stroke, Parkinson’s or other sensory illnesses,” explains Dr. Ahmed Salem of Baylor College of Medicine.

Dr. Salem says it’s notable that coronavirus is causing delirium in 30, 40 and 50-year-olds.

“What has been surprising is seeing it on such a large scale and also affecting younger patients. Seeing delirium in an aging population in the ICU, it’s not something new but what we’re seeing with COVID-19 is a severe respiratory illness on a scale that we have not seen in this generation before, and so we’re seeing a lot of younger patients affected by delirium as well which is not something that we had seen commonly before,” Dr. Salem says.

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